There is ‘Oba’ in Obaseki.

By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.

The throne of the Oba of Benin is highly revered by the Bini people over whom the Oba exerts rulership & influence. This regard for the Oba extends to other parts of Nigeria and internationally as well. Connection with history and tradition has helped the Binis to preserve the relevance of the throne in their daily affairs not minding the vacuum of constitutional support for the throne in modern administration of the Benin society. The authority of the throne and its relevance rest squarely on traditional myth and superstition. But whoever will dare myth and superstition must be ready to see the Oba! When in Benin it is said that one will see the Oba, it brings to mind a moment with life or death whichever the King decides.

It is therefore expected that politicians will not ignore such a huge social capital, but will do the best to overtly or covertly attempt to invest such to the advantage of their ambitions, whichever way they can.

In one of my past analysis of the political situation on Edo State given its fast approaching election, I had warned Edolites regarding the desperation of APC as clearly seen since 2020 in the body language of its party leader and now, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2024!

Tinubu, as the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces will lead APC to Edo State for this all important election.

If all that Tinubu was left with in 2020 was a video message to Edolites to reject Obaseki in 2020, this year’s will present a different dynamic, though APC is the party in power at the centre as it was in 2020, the interest of the President in Edo then and now remains the same!

The loss of his party in 2020 was a bruise of his political ego. Things however are slightly different, why Buhari as the custodian of the Federal might that was deployed in 2020 had no interest and left APC to prosecute the election of its goodwill with the electorates, though propagandas were scaled up and the pocket of Lagos arrived Benin City Edo State, Wednesday before the election very well loaded!

Information regarding the liquidity of the Lagos visitor was made available to me by a father figure of the Church in Benin in whose office I had met a man who will become a tremendous inspiration and encouragement to me in the strides for a better and greater Nigeria, Bro Yemi Esan.

The leader mentioned to me the billions that “Alajo a da ko” of Lagos came with, and he asked me what I think we can do to ensure that the structure that we had built to deliver Obaseki for a 2nd term will not be frustrated, I told him to add just 2 billion to the figure he mentioned and put it on the table that I will assure him we will overwhelm “Baba Alaye”. He exclaimed! Where in the world am I to get 10 billion.

I told him I was only joking and that all the money in the Central Bank couldn’t deliver Edo to the APC!

It happened as I said or was it prophesied? Politics is 100% strategy! Even money in politics must be disbursed to actualize strategy. If not, it will bear no fruits!

The greatest challenge of this coming election is the Man in control of the instrument we call “federal might” in politics.

Places where federal might has been floored and disgraced politically should come under the study of Ighodalo and the PDP. Dynamics do change in politics, and it may, going forward to the election.

But Edo as of today, Monday, the 13th day of May 2024 is a low hanging fruit for Asue to pluck!

The limitation of APC’s Okpebholo to provide a stiff competition for PDP’s Ighodalo is confirmed in the story shared with me by an Elder of the Church, statesman in his own right, an Obidient by political persuasion, but who in the spirit of justice for Edo central had joined very well meaning Edolites to zone it to Edo Central. And of course if justice demands that it should come to Edo Central, meritocracy had long demanded that Asue will pick it, in any a contest between him and Monday where merit is a yardstick!

Disturbed by the trending propaganda of the lawsuit “instituted” by Obaseki against the Oba of Benin. The Elder responded, “my in law”, it is the same old story and same old mischievous campaign strategy!

I started voting 41 years ago in Nigeria! And for the over four decades of my voting life, gubernatorial elections campaign has always been carried out with the same story especially in Edo south.
The story always borders on a particular candidate or those around him as being labelled as enemies of the highly Reverred Oba of Benin and the Benin royal palace!

But how much this campaign strategy has yielded positive results is to be carefully analysed.

In the then Bendel state 1983 gubernatorial election between Prof. Ambrose Alli and Gen. Ogbemudia, there was a campaign against Prof. Alli, that he attempted splitting Benin kingdom into two by proposing to create one EGBEMA kingdom, and thereby, Prof. Alli was labelled an enemy of the Oba and enemy of the Benin kingdom. Though Gen. Ogbemudia was declared the winner of that election, it was clear enough that it was not because of that campaign against Prof. Alli, but because of the massive electoral rigging by the then NPN using their federal might!

In 1991, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun ran against Chief Lucky Igbinedion in a two party election, and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion was labelled as the enemy of the Oba and the enemy of the Benin Royal palace, though it was made believe that Chief Oyegun defeated Chief Lucky Igbinedion because of the campaign strategy, but those with understanding knew that Chief Lucky Igbinedion lost that election to a superior candidate in Chief. Oyegun!

Though, in 1999 the campaign of being an enemy of the Oba and the Benin palace was against Chief Lucky Igbinadion, the election this time around favoured Chief Lucky Igbinedion because of the military support for PDP!

In the subsequent elections, the Oba and the Benin palace was not a campaign strategy, until the 2016 gubernatorial election that produced Mr. G. O. Obaseki.
In 2016, the Edo electorates were reminded of the sins of Chief Agho Obaseki, the great grandfather of Mr. G.O. Obaseki, how he betrayed Oba Ovonramwen and connived with Capt. Philip to deport the Oba, and that Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Philip Shaibu were the modern day Chief. Agho Obaseki and Capt. Philip of the 1897 Benin invasion!

Yet Mr. Obaseki won the election due to the federal might.
In 2020, it was an open secret that the Oba and the Benin palace was obviously against Mr. G. O. Obaseki, so much so that Mr. G. O. Obaseki and his campaign entourage was attacked with guns at the palace gate in the presence of the ancestors, without the ancestors dealing with those criminal elements who perpetrated such disrespectful and shameful acts against the highly Reverend Oba and the Benin palace. However, Mr. G. O. Obaseki won the election before the noon day!

Election is once again around the corner and Mr. G. O. Obaseki is again labelled as an enemy of the Oba and the the Benin palace with the intention to pull down his party candidate and the candidate of his support. Without asking ourselves how much this campaign strategy has produced positive results in the past, one thing the proponents of this campaign strategy always fail to realise is that the major areas they are always out to reach with this old story is a metropolitan area with more than 60% populated by non Benins whose political positions cannot be influenced by Benin palace affairs, while more than 15 % of other remaining percentage are intellectually minded people that cannot be influenced by palace affairs as well. Moreover you also have high population of Christians who have bad long breaks from the believes in ancestors and so cannot be influenced by the Benin palace affairs!

I can categorically say that in my over 40 years as a voter, this “enemy of Oba and Benin palace” campaign strategy has never helped any candidate to win elections!

Prof. Alli was rigged out in 1983 by the sheer instrument of federal might.
In 1991, Chief. Lucky Igbinedion lost to the superior candidacy in Chief. Oyegun.
In 1999, Chief Lucky Igbinedion defiled the campaign and won due to PDP’s federal might.
In 2016, Obaseki defiled the campaign and won against Osagie Ize-Iyamu due to APC’s federal might.

Knowing the strength of the federal might, Ize-Iyamu didn’t hesitate to join Oshiomhole for the 2020 fight, street name, “Edo no be Lagos”, which was to communicate the disdain of Edolites for Tinubu’s intervention in Edo political affairs!

Obaseki again defiled the campaign and won due to popular support from the Edo state voters.
The mischievous campaign calumny strategy that did not help to win elections in the past cannot help in what lies ahead, hoping to be proven wrong.
Every candidate and their parties should be ready for an issues based campaign rather than engaging in this old story and old campaign strategy that has never helped in the past to advance the state.

He ended by saying
God bless Edo state.

May God indeed help Edo State. If in 1983 Ali lost to federal might, and in 1999 Lucky Igbinedon trampled on the Oyegun the people’s candidate aided by federal might. In 2016 it was the turn of Obaseki as APC candidate to harvest from the political phenomenon of federal might to triumph over a very well structured campaign of Osagie Ize-Iyamu as then PDP candidate. The crossover in 2020 provided Obaseki camp a campaign strategy that saw Oshiomhole campaigning for him against Ize-Iyamu as his media team feasted on recordings made from the 2016 campaigns!

Those who are employing the “Oba” must appear in court campaign against Obaseki must not forget that there is “Oba” in Obaseki.
“Oba se eki”, King is more than the market, a saying that honours and establishes the throne as the authority to whom all must defer. How applicable this is to democracy, where the king has just a vote against the multitude of votes that is the potential of the market will be determined on the 21st of September 2024 when both the Oba and the market will file out to elect their Governor!

Who will win the day to become the next Governor of Edo State; Asue or Monday?Strategy and not propaganda will determine.

Asue, more than anything else is at the mercy of federal might, to that, his team must pay their attention!

Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder. He’s also President Voice of His Word Ministries and Convener Apostolic Round Table.

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